DEAR VIC: MY 9/11 MEMORY 👯
Probably everyone has a 9/11 memory. Hopefully you will double-tap the title of this list and share yours, if you are willing.
- •On September 11, 2001, I lived in West Lafayette, Indiana USA. But I was on a business trip to Chicago. I had worked for over a year on a database application for Abbott Labs, a big pharma company headquartered in a north Chicago suburb. I was super proud of it and it had been a challenging gig. I was visiting Abbott to give two days of training.
- •I left my house in Indiana pretty early on Tuesday morning. Training started at 10 am. So I had planned to arrive at 9 am. Of course, on the whole drive there, I had no smart phone and no Internet in the car. Just a cell phone. When I arrived at Abbott around just before 9 am, I met my contact, a dude named Vic. He'd heard about the first plane.
- •But at that point, it seemed like a terrible accident. He took me to the training room and I started hooking my computer up to the projector. We pulled up CNN.com (which would not load reliably) and read about the second plane. People starting filing into training around 9:40 and that's when we heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon.
- •This was not an accident. We were under attack. People started crying. Vic and I talked about whether we should still do the training or bail and go home. Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. The internet didn't seem to work. People could not make calls on their cell phones. Many employees never showed up for training. But we pressed on.
- •People wept openly during the class. And I regularly stopped to check CNN and other news sites. We had no TV in the room. Crazy rumors were circulating. There are more planes headed for Chicago. The Sears Tower has been hit! I tried to call my wife (at the time) and could not get through.
- •At around 5 pm, I left Abbott. I had to make another stop at a different client and wasn't done working until 7 pm. On my drive to my hotel room, I passed many gas stations with lines of cars around the block. I passed a grocery store where people pushed carts in the parking lot filled with bottled water. What the fuck was happening??
- •I checked into my hotel and ordered a pizza from room service. I turned on CNN. I finally reached my ex on the phone. At this point, CNN was recycling a lot of the same horrific footage over and over and over. Planes hitting. Fireballs billowing. People falling. Towers collapsing. Wreckage smoldering.
- •I learned from my ex that her brother, who lived in DC, had been driving past the Pentagon when it was hit.
- •I found out that my step-sister had been on a plane from LA to NYC at the time and was currently grounded somewhere in Kansas.
- •And it seemed like the seas were boiling and the skies were falling and it was the End of the World.
- •Vic. We have been bonded forever. For fourteen years, on every 9/11, I write Vic a letter. Dear Vic. How are you? What's new in your life? How many months til retirement? Has it really been fourteen years? Remember when ___? Oh, God that really happened, didn't it? Please tell me what fills your days, good sir.
- •I sign off here to write my letter to Vic. We shared something horrible. But upon that trauma, we built a bond and a friendship that will last forever.